Servicing the Public or Public Service?

Just for the exercise, let's recall a few of the more prominent government types from the city and state levels who have become lobbyists/consultants after leaving public service:

* Ann Richards does more than hawk potato chips. She lobbies. In February 1995, she signed on with Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand, a powerful Washington, D.C.-based law firm known for their lobbying work. She has lobbied in Washington for the City of Austin, for McDonnell Douglas, and for plaintiffs suing Dow Chemical. "In a sense, we do very much like what we did when I was governor," Richards told Legal Times in June. Richards' chief representative in Washington during her administration, Jane Hickie, also signed on with Verner Liipfert. According to the Public Records and Lobbyist Registration office at the U.S. Senate, Hickie and Richards have an identical client list which, in addition to the clients listed above, includes: Girling Health Care, Mariner Health Group, North Texas Commission, Taubman Co., Texas Assoc. for Home Care, and Textron. Neither Richards nor Hickie have registered as lobbyists with the Texas Ethics Commission. Richards was travelling and could not be reached. Hickie did not respond to a request for an interview.

* Cliff Johnson has been through the revolving door so many times he should be getting dizzy. A state rep in the early Eighties, he later worked as legislative director for former Gov. Bill Clements. In 1989, Clements appointed Johnson to the Texas Water Commission. In 1991, he quit the TWC to work in the lobby, where he stayed until January of 1995, when he went to work for Gov. Bush as a $87,500 per year advisor. He left the governor's office nine months later to return to the lobby. According to his filing with the Texas Ethics Commission, Johnson's 13 clients include sludge disposers Merco Joint Venture, Champion International, Texas Utilities, and Union Pacific Railroad. Based on figures supplied by Johnson to the state, he'll earn at least $495,000 this year.

* Frank Cooksey, Austin's former mayor, is a registered lobbyist at the city. He works for Austin CableVision.

* Lena Guerrero, former legislator from Austin, resigned in disgrace from the Texas Railroad Commission after it was discovered that contrary to her claims, she did not have a college degree. Now a registered lobbyist, her filing at the Texas Ethics Commission shows that her clients (dog racing interests, electric utilities, and auto dealers) will pay her at least $170,000 this year.

* Gene Watkins, former head of the city's neighborhood Housing and Conservation Office, formed Gene Watkins Development Inc. immediately after he left the city in 1993. Criticized for his role and the profit margin being made on an East Austin low-income housing project (SCIP III), Watkins says he has always followed both the letter and the spirit of the city's ethics rules.

* Kristin Kessler, Mayor Bruce Todd's former aide, is registered with the city clerk as a lobbyist for Texas Utilities, one of the companies hoping to get a piece of the city's electric utility. She also works for Worsham, Forsythe and Woolridge, a company which hopes to get a piece of the pie if the city sells the utility to TU. Kessler registered as a lobbyist on August 14, 1995, just eight months after she quit working for Todd. Her father, Ron Kessler, works as a lobbyist at the Lege for clients like the Belo Corp. (owner of the Dallas Morning News), Dell Computer, and Del Webb Corp.

* Diana Granger, former city attorney, now lobbies for Samsung Semiconductor Inc. Granger quit the city in July of 1994; she registered as a lobbyist in January of this year.

* Austin Mayor Bruce Todd announced earlier this year that he would join a consulting group called Todos as soon as his term is over in June, 1997. He says he will avoid any conflicts of interest while he is mayor, but presumably, as soon as his term is up, he, like the others listed here, will be free to sell his knowledge of the process to the highest bidder. His brother-in-law George S. Christian, and father-in-law George E. Christian, are both regis-tered with the Texas Ethics Commission as lobbyists, representing tort reformers, Texas Utilities, and others. Todd's wife, Elizabeth Christian, a founding member of Todos, is a PR consultant. --R.B.

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